We started off strong, with homemade checklists compiled from materials sent by my daughter’s six different therapists and one teacher.
Our workbooks were secured, I put up a dry erase board, I had great online resources. I was ready to go. Before my stay-at-home-mom years, I was a teacher. I felt confident. I had this. I wasn’t going to let school being closed rattle me.
Then I put my best foot forward for my 3-year-old on our first official day of “homeschool.”
And the confusion and sadness on my 3-year-old’s face was almost unbearable.
It wasn’t until that moment that I remembered I was not actually her teacher. Moreover, I was certainly not her physical, occupational, or speech therapist. I was her mom. Her safe place. Her calm from the storm.
And that’s it.
But there she was, in the middle of a storm, and her mom had magically transformed into someone she didn’t even recognize. Her routine had been disrupted. She was dealing with the unexpected loss of people she saw daily. Now, for reasons she didn’t understand, she didn’t recognize her safe place either.
I made the wrong choice, trying to be everyone except her mom. It’s not what she needed.
Had I continued down that homeschool road, she may have made progress academically and met her therapy goals in her IEP for the year, but I would’ve disrupted our relationship to do so.
Our mother-daughter relationship is not something I’m willing to sacrifice. For anything.
It was a really humble moment, recognizing that I was so radically off base in my plans and thought process. I couldn’t possibly have been more out of touch.
I’m in no way suggesting that we give up on schooling and therapy — that wouldn’t be appropriate either.
The kids still need to learn, but we’re choosing to embrace authentic learning and forego the hours of screen time and worksheets. The dry erase board has a tally of “great choices that were made today” instead of a daily agenda, and the workbooks are dusty. We’ve made peanut butter bird feeders, sung silly alphabet songs, planted a garden, and played hopscotch. We finally found Venus, splashed in all the puddles within a half-mile radius, and painted happy rocks for our neighbors to find.
Looking back, in my homeschool planning I had forgotten one of the most basic truths of this pandemic — that we’re all afraid.
Our kids are scared too.
Maybe they’re too little to understand, but they’re scared nonetheless. They see the things changing around them. They feel the “stressed out” vibes. They notice the uneasiness of the adults in their lives and hear lots of new words that make them feel nervous.
So when those little feet come tiptoeing into your room in the middle of the night, just hold those beautiful babies tightly and tell them they’re safe and loved beyond measure.